Are We Underestimating E-scooter Risks?

E-Scooters are rising in popularity across the globe, especially in Korea. But, are the regulations on these electric hybrids too lax?

A common dilemma for people working outside of their homes is transportation. How do you avoid traffic or crowded subways without wasting money on taxis? How do you get there on time while not having to put in the tiring effort of riding a bike? E-Scooters, which are easy-to-use, battery-powered transportation devices, seem to be the perfect solution. 

E-Scooters have had a notable rise in popularity in Korea. According to the Korea Startup Forum and the Shared Personal Mobility Alliance (SPMA), there are now 52,080 E-Scooters in Korea, which is a sharp increase from the 17,130 E-Scooters last year. E-Scooters are an excellent way to get to places on time and are accessible to a wide age range. However, with rising cases of E-Scooters accidents and breaches in public safety guidelines, concerns have been rising over the regulations in place over the use of these machines. According to an article from Yonhap News, certain E-Scooters regulations will become effective in December under Korea’s Road Traffic Act. The regulations include officially categorizing the E-Scooters as a type of bicycle, which allows E-Scooters riders who don’t have driver’s licenses to use bicycle roads. In addition, the age limit for riding an E-Scooter will be decreased from 18 to 13 years old. Additionally, the penalty for not wearing a helmet will no longer be in effect (Kim, 2020). 

Parents, teachers, and other worried citizens have spoken out against these lax regulations, insisting that the authorities must make them more strict. E-Scooters can be very dangerous on roads and sidewalks as people will be navigating through crowds or in front of traffic at speeds of up to 25 kilometres per hour. In addition, many people are seen without helmets on these fast moving vehicles, which poses a safety hazard to the riders. Another problem is that E-Scooter riders are often found riding these machines with two people on a single scooter. There are currently no regulations that address this problem. 

Many citizens have pondered over what would be the best ways to limit E-Scooter accidents. Some suggest having E-Scooter riders pay heavier fines when involved in an accident. Others suggest having a higher age limit (Kim, 2020). However, a solution brought up that I believe is the most effective and logical way is to implement  a separate law for E-Scooters, segways, electric skateboards, and other newly developed transportation machines. 

Perhaps, in the future, a separate road specifically for these types of devices could be created. They function at a different speed range and agility than typical bikes, and should therefore require a different set of rules. A regulation that enforces the use of helmets should most certainly be established, as well as speed limits in certain places (such as a lower limit in school-zones). There should also be several rules in regards to having more than one person on a singular scooter. The age limit of 13 years old is too young, and riders should at least be 18 before being allowed to ride E-Scooters without proper supervision. 

Accidents with E-scooters should be taken more seriously as they can have tragic and irreversible consequences. If you or a family member or friend rides an E-Scooter, make sure to take proper safety precautions, and to think logically about what the right way to handle these machines is. 

With all due respect, just wear a helmet.

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured Image: Let’sKick/Unsplash